With Added Depth, Mets Should Take a Shot with James Paxton

Andy Martino reported that the Mets have ongoing discussions with free agent RHP Jake Arrieta. Earlier I wrote an article that the Mets should stay away from Arrieta, but there is hope. Martino also reported, that the Mets have some interest in James Paxton, who I think the Mets should take a chance on, after other moves were made this offseason.

If you asked me a couple of months ago, if the Mets should sign Paxton, I probably would’ve answered with a no. I wanted the Mets to add starters with less risk of injuries, and a durable arm. Since then, the Mets traded for Carlos Carrasco, Joey Lucchesi and Jordan Yamamoto.

The main addition was Carlos Carrasco, who has been a very good starter. He is slated to be our number three in the starting rotation. With that, the Mets are now able to take a pitcher with a little more injury risk, aka James Paxton. When healthy, Paxton is a good pitcher and you could get him as a clear bargain if he is healthy.

In 2020, Paxton pitched just 20.1 innings due to injuries. When he was on the mound, he wasn’t effective, pitching to a 6.61 ERA. His WHIP was pretty high, but his expected ERA was acceptable in limited time. He didn’t lose his strikeout stuff as he struck out 26 in that span.

Baseball savant

What’s noticeable was that his velocity dropped, however it could be related to injuries. It’s good to see him retaining his whiff percentage and K%. His exit velo isn’t a concern to me, because he features solid run prevention in his career with allowing hard hit contact.

From 2013-2019 Paxton has been one of the better arms when healthy. Over 733 innings (yes that isn’t much over 6 years) he has pitched to a 3.50 ERA, with a 1.20 WHIP, 117 ERA+ and a 9.9 strikeout per walk rate.

In his last full season in 2019, pitching for the Yankees, he was solid with a 3.82 ERA and 11.1 strikeouts per nine. Again, his hard hit rates and spin rates weren’t great but his expected numbers were very good.

Baseball savant

Paxton has a strong arsenal with solid results among all pitches. He features a 4 seam fastball, curve, cutter and change. In the graphic below, you’ll see his expected slashline per pitch.

Baseball savant

His cutter has the least amount of running value as he combined negative 8 in run value. Fact is that he threw it less, however his slash line against that pitch is not terrible.

His curve on the other hand has been a plus. Over the last two seasons, he combined a positive 9 run value on that pitch. It was mostly because of his 2019 season, where he was 14th in baseball in Curve Run Value at 8.

To me it’s clear that Paxton has the most upside and in my opinion the Mets have a shot to go for upside over certainty. If you want to take a shot at Arrieta, why not go for the better upside in Paxton?

Free Agent Target: James Paxton

The New York Mets have always had great skill and or luck when it comes to developing pitching, however not so much with the left handers. Guys like Jon Niese and Steven Matz haven’t panned out the way that scouting and management would’ve liked.

Even with David Peterson looking like a good fit for the back of the rotation, how long does that last exactly? That kinda scares me, some. A nice compliment to Peterson however would be a veteran lefty like James Paxton, formerly of the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners.

Also read: Another major concern about Lindor

Throughout his eight year career, Paxton has pitched in 136 games, all of which were starts, and owns a 57-33 record while posting a 3.58 ERA. In 753.1 innings pitched, the lefty has struck out 829 batters. As the 32 year old celebrates his birthday today (November 6th), he really didn’t have much to celebrate during the 2020 campaign.

In 2020 he pitched to a 6.64 ERA in just five starts on the season. One positive sign is that he did strike out 26 batters in 20.1 innings pitched, so his strike out stuff is there. He had to cut his season short due to a flexor strain in his left forearm.

His 2019 wasn’t light out either, as he had a 3.82 ERA in 29 games but in 150.2 innings pitched, he struck out 186 batters. So his ERA wasn’t great, but that’s to be expected when your home ballpark is Yankee Stadium. Besides, the Ladner, Canada native owned a 15-6 record that year.

Also read: Hello, is it me (NL CY Young finalist) you’re looking for?

MLBTR has Paxton going to the White Sox for $10M on a one year contract, which seems about right to me. However, Cohen’s wallet and desire to win might be more than enough to persuade him as well as other current and future free agents.

So Paxton would be a great addition to the Mets rotation as he as a tremendous upside coming off of a bad year that could be due to injury. Not only would he serve as a solid lefty in the middle of the rotation, but also as a great mentor to the likes of David Peterson and even Thomas Szapucki.

Also read: Four non tender candidates

Photo by Brad Penner/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Tuesday Night Pitching Matchup: Yankees vs Mets

The Mets and Yankees will meet up for their second series that starts today at Citi Field. The visiting Yankees will send James Paxton to the hill, the lefty acquired from the Mariners is 5-3 with a 4.34 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 81 strikeouts in 64.1 innings pitched. He has a 5.46 ERA in his last seven starts.

Zack Wheeler had a terrible time during his last outing against the Yankees earlier on in the season, however Wheeler, who could possibly be auditioning for a handful of other teams, has the perfect opportunity to redeem himself. A good outing against the Yankees will surely raise his stock and value on the open trade market.

Wheeler, who was a mid-season acquisition for Carlos Beltran himself, is 6-5 with a 4.51 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and 115 strikeouts in 107.2 innings pitched.

Tuesday Night Pitching Matchup: Mets vs Yankees

Jason Vargas and the Mets will cap off a doubleheader in the Bronx, in what should be an exciting 2-game series against the Yankees at New Yankees Stadium at 7:05 PM.

Vargas owns a 2-3 record alongside a 3.57 ERA and 37 strikeouts over 45.1 innings and 9 games started. The crafty lefty pitched a complete game shutout his last time out against the San Francisco Giants, the shutout would go down as Vargas’ 8th of his career.

Vargas has a 1.85 ERA in his last 7 starts, allowing just 28 hits in 39.0 innings and striking out 34.

The Yankees will send James Paxton to the mound, who’s fresh off of the Injured List from problems with his left knee. The lefty is 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA and 1.17 WHIP to go alongside with 63 strikeouts in 46.1 innings pitched.